demi- Look up demi- at
word-forming element meaning "half, half-sized, partial," early 15c., from Old French demi "half" (12c.), from Late Latin dimedius, from Latin dimidius "half, one-half," which contains the elements dis- "apart" (see dis-) + medius "middle" (see medial).
demi-monde (n.) Look up demi-monde at
also demimonde, 1855, from French demi-monde "so-so society," literally "half-world," from demi- "half" + monde, from Latin mundus "world" (see mundane).

Popularized by its use as title of a comedy by Alexandre Dumas fils (1824-1895). Dumas' Demi-Monde "is the link between good and bad society ... the world of compromised women, a social limbo, the inmates of which ... are perpetually struggling to emerge into the paradise of honest and respectable ladies" ["Fraser's Magazine," 1855]. Not properly used of courtesans. Compare 18th-century English demi-rep (1749, the second element short for reputation), defined as "a woman that intrigues with every man she likes, under the name and appearance of virtue ... in short, whom every body knows to be what no body calls her" [Fielding].
demigod (n.) Look up demigod at
1520s, from demi- + god, rendering Latin semideus. It can mean the offspring of a deity and a mortal, a man raised to divine rank, or a minor god.
demijohn (n.) Look up demijohn at
1769, partial translation and word-play from French damejeanne (late 17c.), literally "Lady Jane," a term used for a large globular wicker-wrapped bottle, perhaps because its shape suggested a stout woman in the costume of the period. A general Mediterranean word, with forms found in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Arabic.
demilitarize (v.) Look up demilitarize at
also demilitarise, 1883, in reference to the Austrian military frontier in the Balkans; see de- + militarize. Demilitarized zone attested by 1921 (the Versailles Treaty uses neutralized zone).
demise (n.) Look up demise at
mid-15c., from Middle French demise, fem. past participle of démettre "dismiss, put away," from des- "away" (from Latin dis-) + Middle French mettre "put," from Latin mittere "let go, send" (see mission). Originally "transfer of estate by will," meaning extended 1754 to "death" because that's when this happens.
demisemiquaver (n.) Look up demisemiquaver at
1706; see demi- + semi- + quaver (n.).
demission (n.) Look up demission at
1570s, from French démission, from Latin demissionem "a sending away," noun of action from past participle stem of demittere, literally "to send down" (see demit).
demit (v.) Look up demit at
1610s (figurative), 1640s (literal), from Latin demittere "to send down," from de- (see de-) + mittere "to send" (see mission).
demitasse (n.) Look up demitasse at
also demi-tasse, 1842, from French, literally "half-cup," from demi- + tasse "cup," an Old French borrowing from Arabic tassah, from Persian tasht "cup, saucer." By the same path come Italian tazza, Spanish taza "cup."
demiurge (n.) Look up demiurge at
1670s, from Latinized form of Greek demiourgos, literally "public or skilled worker" (from demos "common people;" see demotic + ergos "work;" see organ).

The title of a magistrate in some Peloponnesian city-states and the Achæan League; taken in Platonic philosophy as a name for the maker of the world. In the Gnostic system, "conceived as a being subordinate to the Supreme Being, and sometimes as the author of evil" [OED].
demo (n.) Look up demo at
1963, "music recording given out for promotional purposes," short for demonstration (tape, disc, etc.). The word was used earlier to mean "a public political demonstration" (1936).
demob (v.) Look up demob at
1920, short for demobilize. Originally in reference to World War I troops returning to civilian life. Related: Demobbed.
demobilization (n.) Look up demobilization at
1866 (in reference to the Austro-Prussian War); see de- (privative) + mobilization. Earlier in German.
demobilize (v.) Look up demobilize at
"to send home (troops) as not required for active service," 1876, probably a back-formation from demobilization (q.v.). Related: Demobilized; demobilizing.
democracy (n.) Look up democracy at
1570s, from Middle French démocratie (14c.), from Medieval Latin democratia (13c.), from Greek demokratia "popular government," from demos "common people," originally "district" (see demotic), + kratos "rule, strength" (see -cracy).
Democracy implies that the man must take the responsibility for choosing his rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of his own 'rights' against the possible and probable encroachments of the government which he has sanctioned to act for him in public matters. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Economics," 1933]
democrat (n.) Look up democrat at
1790, "adherent of democracy," with reference to France, from French démocrate (18c., opposed to aristocrate), back-formation from démocratie (see democracy); formally revived in U.S. as a political party affiliation 1798, with a capital D. As a shortening of this, Demo (1793) is older than Dem (c. 1840).
democratic (adj.) Look up democratic at
c. 1600, from French démocratique, from Medieval Latin democraticus, from Greek demokratikos "of or for democracy; favoring democracy," from demokratia "popular government" (see democracy). Earlier was democratian (1570s).

As a political faction name, from 1790 in reference to France. U.S. political usage (with a capital D) attested from c. 1800. The party originally was the Anti-Federal party, then the Democratic-Republican (Democratic for short). It formed among those opposed to extensive powers for the U.S. federal government. The name of the party was not formally shortened to Democratic until 1829. Democratic socialism is attested from 1849.
democratization (n.) Look up democratization at
1860; see democratize + -ation.
We teach the population at the cheapest possible rate; and the aim all the democratization (if we may use the word) of literature proposes to itself in this country, is to store the minds of the many, of the anonymous multitude, with a large portion of valuable, because practically useful, facts. ["Meliora," vol. ii, no. 6, 1860]
democratize (v.) Look up democratize at
1798 (transitive), 1840 (intransitive), from French démocratiser, from démocratie (see democracy). Greek demokratizein meant "to be on the democratic side."
demographic (adj.) Look up demographic at
1891, from demography + -ic. As a noun, by 1998, short for demographic group or category. Related: Demographical; demographically.
demographics (n.) Look up demographics at
1967, the science of divining from demographic statistics; see demography + -ics. Originally in reference to TV audiences and advertisers.
demography (n.) Look up demography at
1880, from Greek demos "people" (see demotic) + -graphy.
demoiselle (n.) Look up demoiselle at
1510s, from French demoiselle (Old French dameiselle); see damsel.
demolish (v.) Look up demolish at
1560s, from Middle French demoliss-, present participle stem of démolir "to destroy, tear down" (late 14c.), from Latin demoliri "tear down," from de- "down" (see de-) + moliri "build, construct," from moles (genitive molis) "massive structure" (see mole (n.3)). Related: Demolished; demolishing.
demolition (n.) Look up demolition at
1540s, from Old French demolition (14c.) "demolition; defeat, rout," from Latin demolitionem (nominative demolitio), noun of action from past participle stem of demoliri "tear down" (see demolish). Mencken noted demolition engineer for "house-wrecker" by 1936. Demolition derby is recorded from 1956, American English, defined by OED as "a contest in which old cars are battered into one another, the last one running being declared the winner."
demon (n.) Look up demon at
c. 1200, from Latin daemon "spirit," from Greek daimon "deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity" (sometimes including souls of the dead); "one's genius, lot, or fortune;" from PIE *dai-mon- "divider, provider" (of fortunes or destinies), from root *da- "to divide" (see tide (n.)).

Used (with daimonion) in Christian Greek translations and Vulgate for "god of the heathen" and "unclean spirit." Jewish authors earlier had employed the Greek word in this sense, using it to render shedim "lords, idols" in the Septuagint, and Matthew viii.31 has daimones, translated as deofol in Old English, feend or deuil in Middle English. Another Old English word for this was hellcniht, literally "hell-knight."

The original mythological sense is sometimes written daemon for purposes of distinction. The Demon of Socrates was a daimonion, a "divine principle or inward oracle." His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Algol.
demoness (n.) Look up demoness at
1630s; see demon + -ess.
demonetization (n.) Look up demonetization at
1852, from French démonétisation, from démonetiser (see demonetize).
demonetize (v.) Look up demonetize at
1852, from French démonitiser, from de- (see de-) + monetiser (see monetize).
demoniac (adj.) Look up demoniac at
c. 1400, "possessed, insane," earlier (late 14c.) as a noun, "one who is possessed," from Late Latin daemoniacus, from Greek daimoniakos "possessed by a demon," from diamon (see demon).
demonic (adj.) Look up demonic at
1660s, from Latin daemonicus, from daemon (see demon). Demonical is from late 15c.
demonize (v.) Look up demonize at
1821, "to make into a demon" (literally or figuratively), from Medieval Latin daemonizare, from Latin daemon (see demon). Greek daimonizesthai meant "to be possessed by a demon." Related: Demonized; demonizing.
demonology (n.) Look up demonology at
1590s; see demon + -ology.
demonstrable (adj.) Look up demonstrable at
c. 1400, from Latin demonstrabilis, from demonstrare "to indicate, describe" (see demonstration). Related: Demonstrably.
demonstrate (v.) Look up demonstrate at
1550s, "to point out," from Latin demonstratus, past participle of demonstrare "to indicate, describe" (see demonstration). Meaning "to point out by argument or deduction" is from 1570s. Related: Demonstrated; demonstrating. Latin also had commonstrare "point out, reveal," praemonstrare "show beforehand, foretell."
demonstration (n.) Look up demonstration at
late 14c., "proof that something is true," from Old French demonstration or directly from Latin demonstrationem (nominative demonstratio), noun of action from past participle stem of demonstrare "to point out, indicate, demonstrate," figuratively, "to prove, establish," from de- "entirely" (see de-) + monstrare "to point out, show," from monstrum "divine omen, wonder" (see monster). Meaning "public show of feeling," usually with a mass meeting and a procession, is from 1839. Related: Demonstrational.
demonstrative (adj.) Look up demonstrative at
late 14c., "characterized by logic, based on logic," from Old French démonstratif (14c.), from Latin demonstrativus "pointing out, demonstrating," from past participle stem of demonstrare "to indicate, describe" (see demonstration). Grammatical sense, "pointing out the thing referred to," is mid-15c. Meaning "given to outward expressions of feelings" is from 1819. Demonstrative pronoun is late 16c.
demonstrator (n.) Look up demonstrator at
1610s, "one who points out," agent noun in Latin form from demonstrate. From 1680s as "one who uses exhibits as a method of teaching;" 1870 as "one who participates in public demonstrations."
demoralize (v.) Look up demoralize at
c. 1793, "to corrupt the morals of," from French démoraliser, from de- "remove" (see de-) + moral (adj.) (see moral). Said to be a coinage of the French Revolution. Sense of "lower the morale of" (especially of armies) is first recorded 1848. Related: Demoralized; demoralizing.
demote (v.) Look up demote at
1881, American English coinage from de- + stem of promote. Said to have been Midwestern in origin.
Regarding an antithesis to 'promote,' the word universally in use in Cambridge, in Harvard College, is drop. The same word is in use in the leading schools here (Boston). I hope I may be counted every time against such barbarisms as 'demote' and 'retromote.' [Edward Everett Hale, 1892, letter to the publishers of "Funk & Wagnalls' Standard Dictionary"]
Related: Demoted; demoting.
demotic (adj.) Look up demotic at
1822, from Greek demotikos "of or for the common people, in common use," from demos "common people," originally "district," from PIE *da-mo- "division," from root *da- "to divide" (see tide). In contrast to hieratic. Originally of the simpler of two forms of ancient Egyptian writing; broader sense is from 1831; used of Greek since 1927.
demotion (n.) Look up demotion at
1901, agent noun from demote (v.).
demotivate (v.) Look up demotivate at
1976; see de- + motivate. Related: Demotivated; demotivating.
Dempsey Look up Dempsey at
surname, from Irish Ó Diomasaigh "descendant of Diomasach," literally "proud."
demulcent (adj.) Look up demulcent at
1732, from Latin demulcentem (nominative demulcens), present participle of demulcere "to stroke down, soothingly pet," from de- (see de-) + mulcere "to soothe."
demur (v.) Look up demur at
c. 1200, "to linger, tarry, delay," from Old French demorer "delay, retard," from Latin demorari "to linger, loiter, tarry," from de- (see de-) + morari "to delay," from mora "a pause, delay" (see moratorium). Main modern sense of "raise objections" is first attested 1630s. Related: Demurred; demurring.
demure (adj.) Look up demure at
late 14c. (early 14c. as a surname), from Old French meur "mature, fully grown, ripe," hence "discreet," from Latin maturus "mature" (see mature (v.)) [OED]. The de- in this word is of uncertain meaning. Or possibly from Anglo-French demuré (Old French demoré), past participle of demorer "stay," and influenced by meur [Barnhart]. Or from Old French de (bon) murs "of good manners," from murs (Modern French moeurs) [Klein].
demurrage (n.) Look up demurrage at
1640s, from Old French demorage, from demorer (see demur).
demurrer (n.) Look up demurrer at
legal pleading, 1530s, from Anglo-French demurrer, Old French demorer "to delay, retard" (see demur).